Do you love tea with mixed spices? Yes? Then, you are going to love this easy West Indian bay leaf tea recipe. It is so simple to make but has such an amazing depth of flavor.
Imagine brewing cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice together … that pretty much sums up how this tea tastes. All that flavor comes from one little leaf. It’s so interesting and unique.
The leaf is used for so much more than just making tea. It’s the secret ingredient in many Caribbean dishes like curries, sauces, stews, sweets, and porridge. It’s also a must in rinks like sorrel or hibiscus tea.
I even add it to boiling rice with a couple clove buds. They give bland rice a wonderful unique taste!
Bay Laurel vs West Indian Bay
Bay is a common name for a couple different plants.
Bay laurel or sweet bay (whose Latin name is Laurus nobilis) is used for its unique flavor in soups, stews, and other Mediterranean recipes.
Indian bay (Latin name: Cinnamomum tamala) has a strong cinnamon smell and taste.
West Indian bay (Latin name: Pimenta racemosa) has a much stronger smell and fragrance than the other two. It is also called bay rum or ciliment. Sometimes, it is mistakenly called allspice (Latin name: Pimenta dioica). Yes, they are from the same genus (Pimenta) but are two unique plants. This article explains their difference.
Besides cooking, West Indian bay leaves are used to make bay rum and cologne. Bay rum works wonders for sore, painful muscles.
The leaves also have repellent benefits: bugs hate the stuff! There are actually a couple bay leaves in my cupboards right now… My mom even adds it to rice and flour to prevent tiny bugs and weevil from getting in.
West Indian Bay Leaf Tea
Like lemongrass, I have a bay leaf tree in my garden! It’s a neat little thing, isn’t it?
You can make tea with fresh or dried leaves. Both types will give you the same wonderful flavor.
For this tea, I picked six mature leaves – not the young, light green ones at the top. I’ve found tea made with the young leaves have an unpleasant, menthol-like taste. But tea from the mature leaves have a nice, cinnamony flavor.
Boil for 20 to 25 minutes; and allow to steep for another 20 minutes. The longer the tea is left to steep, the stronger and darker it will become. Sweeten with your favorites like honey.
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Benefits of West Indian Bay Leaf Tea
There are very few studies that explore the benefits of this tea.
A 2004 animal study found the tea had antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory benefits. What does that even mean? Antinociceptive means the tea was able to block the animals’ perception of pain.
This one from 2018 discusses the more traditional uses of the tea. It notes the tea is used to treat flatulence, gastric disorder, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, colds, fever and painful muscles. It also emphasized the tea’s pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Bay essential oil has also shown tremendous antibacterial, anti-fungal, insecticidal and repellent activity. The essential oil is powerful stuff!
Bay Leaf Tea Recipe
West Indian Bay Leaf Tea Recipe
- 6 bay leaves (mature)
- 3 cups boiling water
- sweetener (like honey)
- Wash leaves.
- Add to boiling water and leave for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let steep for another 20 minutes for a strong, dark tea.
- Add your favorite sweetener and serve hot or cold.
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